A US air raid in northern Syria has killed a top Al-Qaeda member who had close ties the terror network’s late leader Osama bin Laden, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
Abu Hani al-Masri died in the drone strike in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province last Saturday after air strikes killed 10 Al-Qaeda operatives near Idlib a day earlier, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis announced.
Masri is alleged to have set up and run Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan during the 1980s and 1990s. He “recruited, indoctrinated, trained and equipped thousands of terrorists,” the Pentagon stated.
He also had close ties to fellow Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became Al-Qaeda leader when Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by US forces in 2011.
“These strikes disrupt al-Qaeda’s ability to plot and direct external attacks targeting the US and our interests worldwide,” said Davis.
Al-Qaeda’s influence in Syria operates largely through an affiliated jihadist group, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), formerly called the al-Nusra Front.
JFS, which at one stage controlled most of Idlib province, was one of the groups excluded from the ceasefire negotiated by Russia and Turkey in December.
Intelligence suggests JFS’s leadership structure is still intertwined with Al-Qaeda’s.